Certification Testing Adjusted For Teachers

State tests for teacher certification are being adjusted following feedback from colleges and universities.

The new changes will affect how teachers acquire their certification. The areas that are primarily affected will be a revised passing score for the edTPA (Educational Teacher Performance Assessment) certification exam, an extension of the safety net for individuals who do not pass the exam and amended eligibility requirements.

“New York state still has, even with these changes, some of the highest rigor to qualify individuals to become teachers in the country,” David O’Rourke, superintendent of Erie-2 Chautauqua County Cattaraugus BOCES, said.

This new implementation did not happen overnight. Pieces of these changes can be seen as far back as 2014 when the edTPA exam was established and the edTPA Task Force was created to “explore possible improvements to the exam going forward.”

“This is a sensible attempt to take a little more time in implementing some of those changes to teacher certification,” O’Rourke said.

The highest score any one candidate can score is 75 and currently the passing score is 41.Changes to the edTPA exam include changing the passing score currently to 40. In 2018 and 2019, the score will drop to 38. It will then rise to 39 from 2020 until 2021 and then settle at 40 in the year 2022.

So, why lower the passing score to 38 if the desired score is 40?

For Christine Givner, dean of College Education at the State University of New York at Fredonia, the reason is course correction. She believes the New York State Education Department and the Board of Regents have agreed that changes were needed for students going into the education field and have listened to feedback from education departments across New York state.

“Despite caution from the (education) field to take it a little bit slowly until we had time to really do a curriculum integration and get campuses ready for this new assessment, because it is a very rigorous assessment, they put it on a short time frame to make it high stakes,” Givner said.

Givner said in 2014, the first year of implementation, edTPA scores were very low. A federal requirement required that 80 percent of education program graduates pass the teacher certification for that particular state.

“New York was having a difficult time getting the pass rate they needed for this federal requirement,” Givner said. “Over the next year SED realized, ‘oops, we should have implemented this more slowly.'”

The result was the implementation of safety nets.

The new safety net for the edTPA exam is called the Multiple Measure Review Process. This is a way for students who are visibly ready to teach but didn’t pass the edTPA exam can still be certified in certain cases. The qualifications for the Multiple Measure Review Process require the individual to score no lower than two points below the passing grade, to have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and to have passed all other required exams necessary for teacher certification.

The former safety net provision that was available in case an applicant failed the edTPA, called the Assessment of Teaching Skills-Written (ATS-W), will no longer be offered as of July 1, 2018. This is because of the newly proposed Multiple Measure Review Process and the proposed passing score of 38 that, if approved, will be in effect permanently as of Dec. 27. But the ATS-W has been extended until June 20, 2018, even though the new passing score and the new safety net is anticipated to be in effect by then.

“After three years, (the state) has decided that they still need to have a transition period,” Givner said. “So, that’s why they’re trying to lower the edTPA passing score so that they can ease into this.”

This came after deans across the state asked for the state to slow down the process. Although, the state has answered the calls of college campuses to ease into this new exam for its students, Givner believed that her campus and many others were already up to speed.

“I think campuses are well on their way now to being able to meet the original passing scores that were required,” Givner said.

But Givner also understood a more consistent education degree graduate to certified teacher ratio.

“I’m fine with them responding to the field’s concern that they haven’t given us enough time to implement this, that’s really what this is all about,” Givner said.

Public comments are being accepted by the New York State Board of Regents through Nov. 13, 2017.